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US, Ukraine pledge to combat human trafficking

Author: JulieAnn McKellogg, VOA News Date: Wed, Feb 16 2011 3004 Views
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Ukrainian counterpart have pledged increased efforts to combat human trafficking in Ukraine.  In a recent report, the U.S. said Ukraine is increasingly becoming a destination country for victims of trafficking.  

Secretary of State Clinton and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko met at the State Department Monday to sign a cooperation plan on combating human trafficking.  Clinton said the two countries are making progress on the issue.

"The recent repatriation from Ukraine to the United States of a trafficker accused of taking more than $1 million in profits from the women he exploited is just one way we are working to end this tragic worldwide blight," said Secretary Clinton.

The U.S. ranked Ukraine as a second-tier country in its 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report.  That ranking means the government in Kyiv does not fully comply with the minimum standards of U.S. law for eliminating trafficking, but does make significant efforts to do so.

The report describes Ukraine as a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children who are victims, specifically those of forced labor and forced prostitution.

A top United Nations official on human trafficking, Martin Fowke, told VOA this kind of partnership between the U.S. and Ukraine is one of the most important aspects of combating human trafficking.

"This is a transnational crime, something of which impacts on most countries in the world, and the more we can find solutions that cross borders, like the crime networks that perpetrate human trafficking, the more likely we are to have a serious impact on it," said Fowke.

Fowke, who is the officer-in-charge for the U.N. Anti-Human Trafficking & Migrant Smuggling Unit in Geneva, says calculating the number of trafficking vicims is very difficult.  But he says the International Labor Organization estimates that at any one time close to 2.4 million people have been victims of forced labor.

Human trafficking incudes victims of the sex trade, forced or bonded labor, domestic servitude, forced marriage, organ removal and child soldiers.

In its recent report, the U.S. made recommendations for all evaluated countries on how to crack down on trafficking.  Recommendations for Ukraine include harsher sentences for convicted traffickers, creating formal ways of identifying victims, and providing more funding and specialized services for victims.

Clinton and the visiting Ukrainian foreign minister discussed a variety other bilateral issues, with Clinton underscoring Ukraine's commitment to progress on a variety of energy, economic and social issues.

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